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Alabama is a country and Southern rock band from – you guessed it – Alabama, USA! Consisting initially of three cousins, Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook, the band formed in 1969 and went on to win over 200 awards. A staple of the country music scene, Alabama has had a huge impact on the genre for over 50 years.

Saving country rock

Alabama formed when cousins Owen and Gentry started learning guitar together — they both lived on cotton farms on Alabama’s Lookout Mountain. They were later joined by their other cousin Cook, who had musical experience performing in other bands.

After a hiatus when Owen and Cook went to college, the trio decided to move to Anniston, Alabama to focus on their music. They shared an apartment, worked labouring jobs during the day, and developed their country craft at night.

In 1973, when they decided to quit their day jobs and become full-time musicians, the band was still called Wild Country and they hadn’t yet found a permanent drummer. Still, by 1974 they were making headway. They were writing original songs and were eventually joined by Rick Scott, who would be their drummer for the next five years.

Despite consistently touring around the Southeast, the band struggled to land a record contract. They tried self-financing (and once borrowed $4000 dollars from the bank to record) but found it wasn’t sustainable.

However, the band’s determination would soon pay off. After buying themselves out of a bad contract with bankrupt GRT records, releasing three self-funded albums, and hiring independent radio promoters, it was time to reap the rewards for their efforts. After releasing the single “My Home’s in Alabama” and performing at Nashville’s Country Radio Seminar, they were offered a contract with RCA.

At the end of this rocky road, success was waiting for Alabama. During the 1980s the band landed 27 no.1 hits, accumulated countless music awards, and released seven multi-platinum albums. “Dixieland Delight”, “Mountain Music”, and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band) are just some of their most popular songs.

Alabama would become one of the best-selling bands of all time. Credited with drawing a vast new group of fans to country rock music, they have won over 200 awards and sold 75 million records globally.

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